Hypodermic Needle Theory

This is where the media assumes that we believe everything that the media tells us, that was are all passive audiences. They think that our behaviour is easily shaped by the media messages, and they don’t question what the media says but just goes with everything. Usually, passive audiences are either young children or elders. For an example, if the media says that a threatening disease (Ebola), will kill everyone in the UK, then the audience will believe that statement.

Two Step Flow Theory 

The media assumes that the audience is more active, where they discuss the media with people. This is when you don’t believe everything, but you believe it to an extend to ask people about the information. You always ask an opinion leader to help influence your opinion on the subject to know whether the information in the media is true or not. (An opinion leader is a range of people. It’s someone you trust that knows enough about the topic, to trust their opinion). The two step flow goes like this:

Media Product  ->  Decoder (Us)  ->   Opinion Leader

“Ebola’s going to kill everyone” -> “How much is true?” -> “Yes, you can get it, but it’s not certain” (Doctor)

This theory gives the audience a lot more credit because it implies that we are discussing the text and trying to find out how much is true, rather than being naïve and believing everything the media tells us.

Cultivation Theory

This is where repeated exposure to a subject will desensitise the subject to the audience. So, at the start of the paris attacks, everyone was very outraged but then after a lot of time of it being on the news 24/7, people become less outraged to it and get used to the fact.

Uses and Gratifications Theory 

This is where the audience controls the media, and they look at why the audience use the media and what they want to get out of it. This assumes that the audience is always active. They say that the audience has 4 main uses of media:

  1. Diversion – To occupy yourself and forget about your day, your problems
  2. Personal Identity – you’re having a problem and you can identify with someone on the media and it will give you a form of comfort
  3. Personal relationships – Fives you a common talking ground with people who have also watched that film/show or listened to that song
  4. Surveillance – We find out what is going off in the world

The one main problem from this theory is that sometimes people don’t use any of these uses, they just put the radio/TV on as background noise, or just as a habit.

In this theory they say that the audience has the most power and controls the media in what they put into their texts. But in the hypodermic needle theory they say that the media has all of the control over the audience and can inject anything into the public.

Reception Theory (Stuart Hall)

This is where the audience do not passively the media text. Hall proposed different audience readings:

  • Dominant reading – This is where the media text is interpreted in the way intended by the producer
  • Negotiated reading – This is where audience accepts some of the texts, but not all the aspects
  • Oppositional reading – This is where the audience is in conflict with the message

Different things that can influence which reading we receive:

  • Gender
  • Background, culture, upbringing, lifestyle (situated culture)
  • Age
  • Experience/Knowledge

This theory also gives the audience a lot more credit as it says that not everyone is a passive audience and believes everything they’re told. It says that we’re all different and we can read texts in different ways to each other. It shows that we are all different as people.


Media debate on censorship


  • So that it takes the pressure of the parents having to say “don’t watch the film”, when they can’t because they wouldn’t be allowed in the cinema or to buy the film.
  • Save time for parents to have to check the films and their suitability for their children.
  • It can pre-meditate peoples health problems, so if people are exposed to bad films it could give them a sense of escapism, like Nathan Montinez.


  • Children will still find the film on the internet anyway, parents have no control.
  • Parents should take an active role in bringing up the children to an extent, to desensitise the subject.


The Killing Screens

Nathan Montinez: 

This boy watch Natural Born Killers for the first time with his friend, and then became obsessed with the film. It was a form of escapism for him. He didn’t have a great family life, so to see someone kill their family on screen, her knew what he could do. He then killed his step-mother and half-sister. After the killing, he picked up his friend who he watched the film with, and told him, then took him on a road trip. On the way from running into the sunset, he went and bought the soundtrack for the movie for them to drive to. This film gave him his way out to the horrors at home, so it just pre-meditated his mental health problems.

Power Rangers

Power rangers was shown on TV before and after school, the perfect times for the children to be able to watch it. The children would do the fight moves, because they thinks that’s normal. “That’s what they do so thats what I do”, “We pretend to fight”, “When we play it someone gets hurt”. This shows that such a simple, children show can influence the children aggressiveness, but they don’t realise they’re hurting people as they assume that it’s normal to do on a day to day life, to save people via violence.